Thanks to Tara Isabel Zambrano for judging this year’s prize! Here are Tara’s comments on the process and results:
Reading these shortlisted stories have been moments of discovery and tough decisions. It has been a great pleasure. After much deliberation and sitting with these ten stories over a week, reading them aloud and observing their voices and flow, I am asking which is best representing a flash piece? A satisfying narrative, a complete-yet-wanting-more of a story, characters and their intentions reasonable. All ten stories fulfilled this criteria so this was a case of slim margins.
So without further ado, here are my picks:
First Place: Olla’s Daughter by Dara Elerath
This is one of those flash fictions that invites you in, at first a little odd, but as you continue, you realize that is its strength, its pulse–this complex shape of motherhood that’s describing her child in contrast to another. As the piece progresses, the deeper layers are exposed, the voice like the surface of a calm lake and yet turbulent beneath. And it’s all too familiarly human, in its despair and a shimmering thread of hope made and remade. At the sentence level, it sings, it unwinds at the right pace creating an emotional depth that makes this a worthy winner.
First Commended: A Place So Far Away It Was Already Tomorrow by Edie Meade
A beautifully paced flash piece that shines with consistent tone and voice. It’s impressive how this story is vividly etched with crisp details such as – Daddy hunkered above ground so restless, or Stern women sent their men up the hill, or with this sharp sense of place – Kentucky flipped its weather like a coin. And below all this surface of words, a story unfolds of a possibility, of uncertainties and a gruesome reality, a territory we all have arrived at some point or another.
Second Commended: Tell Us Three Things, One of Which Is a Lie by Sharon Telfer
The title of this flash invited me in and once I was there, I was hooked to its brief and surreal landscape. Which one is a lie? They are all hooked to each other, they are all laced with danger and the art of life that dances between the margins of death, delicate, and yet, always moving. At the craft level, the sentences are seamless between odd and familiar worlds, interconnected, miracles of narrative.
Editors Choice: Box by Natalie Warther
A good way to show how this one became our Editor’s choice seems to be to share snippets of first reaction comments from the day we read it. Things like “Yowsa!!!” and “So good!” And then comments during the selection of the Editor’s Choice: “My winner from the moment I read it. It’s a stunning piece.” Box has one of my favorite final sentences as well: The cigarette burned down, getting smaller and smaller, the way smallness comes for us all, over time.
Thanks again to Tara and to everyone who entered stories this year. This annual prize helps us keep New Flash Fiction Review afloat. We appreciate your support and are happy to present this years winners and short listed stories.
2021 New Flash Fiction Prize Issue
August 16, 2021